Ravenscroft goalie Will Bird couldn’t recall a performance finer than the one he put together Saturday afternoon, and the timing couldn’t have been any better.
The senior made 14 saves, many of them spectacular, and teammate Spencer Beller led a balanced scoring attack with three goals as the Ravens captured the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association Division I boys lacrosse title with a 9-7 victory over visiting Christ School.
It was the first state title in program history and it came one year after a 15-10 championship-game loss to Charlotte Latin. Ravenscroft had also lost in the 2012 final to Charlotte Latin, 12-5.
“It has to be the top for me, and to do it on our field and in the state championship, there’s no better feeling than that.” Bird said. “Our boys stepped up, it was a lot of fun.”
Though top-seeded Ravenscroft (17-2) never trailed Saturday, it was never quite able to shake the Greenies, as the Ravens led by no more than three goals at any point.
But Ravenscroft was able to breathe a little easier early in the fourth quarter when Drew Davis and Beller scored back-to-back goals in a 39-second span, Beller’s goal giving Ravenscroft an 8-5 lead with 10 minutes, 31 seconds remaining.
Joey Cinque answered with a goal for Christ School less than a minute later to cut the deficit to 8-6, but the Greenies did not score again until Riley Smith tallied the final goal of the match with 1:51 left.
“I’m so proud of the boys, they’ve worked so hard since September,” Ravenscroft coach Sandy Kapatos said. “This was the goal at the beginning of the year. It was not pre-ordained, but people were saying ‘You’re going to win it’ and it put more pressure on the boys. But they sure responded (Saturday).
“I thought they played a near-perfect game and Will was unbelievable in goal. He just shut the door on them.”
Bird was particularly impressive in the first half, helping stake Ravenscroft to a 5-3 halftime lead despite Christ School having seemingly better offensive chances. Among Bird’s highlights were back-to-back saves in a span of just seconds early in the second quarter on close-range shots by Hunter Vines and Cinque, and a diving stop of a shot by Vines on a breakaway several minutes later.
“Save after save, you definitely get into a rhythm and the confidence grows, and then you just build on it,” Bird said.
Troy Jones added two goals and an assist and McCabe Watson had a goal and two assists for Ravenscroft, which saw six different players score goals.
Cinque, Smith and Will Iorio each had two goals for the second-seeded Greenies (14-5), who were playing in their first state final.
“I’m still proud of our team, we played well, we battled,” Christ School coach Jeff Miles said. “From an offensive standpoint, we just had a hard time finishing on their goalie. Possession-wise, shot-wise and ground ball-wise it was a pretty equal match, but they finished and we didn’t.”